Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Book Review: The Road to Rose Bend

 The Road to Rose Bend

About the Book:

Sydney Collins left the small Berkshires town of Rose Bend eight years ago, grieving her sister’s death—and heartbroken over her parents’ rejection. But now the rebel is back—newly divorced and pregnant—ready to face her fears and make a home for her child in the caring community she once knew. The last thing she needs is trouble. But trouble just set her body on fire with one hot, hot smile.

Widower and Rose Bend mayor Coltrane Dennison hasn’t smiled in ages. Until a chance run-in with Sydney Collins, who’s all grown-up and making him want what he knows he can’t have. Grief is his only connection to the wife and son he lost, and he won’t give it up. Not for Sydney, not for her child, not for his heart. But when Sydney’s ex threatens to upend everything she’s rebuilt in Rose Bend, Cole and Sydney may find that a little trouble will take them where they never expected to go.

My Comments:

 If you were looking for a sweet relatively clean romance, the cover of The Road to Rose Bend could make you think you'd found one, but you would be wrong.  While I enjoyed to story of Cole and Sydney, it was a very "physical" book.  The word "dick" was used 18 times in the book, and most of those references were not during bedroom scenes.  There were several bedroom scenes and they were vivid enough to serve as tutorials.  

Those looking for diversity in reading material may be interested in knowing that Sydney is Black and Cole is Puerto Rican (but adopted by a family of Irish heritage).  While his heritage is explicitly made clear early in the book, I was quite a ways into the book before I realized that she was African-American. 

I liked both Cole and Sydney and enjoyed watching them let go of old hurts and learn to love again but I didn't like all the crude references to male anatomy nor the front row seat on the bedroom action.  

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.  Grade: B-

Monday, April 26, 2021

It's Monday, What Are You Reading


Hello to my fellow book bloggers who have stopped by via It's Monday, What Are You Reading over at Book Date.  

I can't really tell you what I did last week, but I did get one review book finished, Susan Mallery's Stepsisters which I enjoyed.  

It rained last weekend but this weekend was absolutely beautiful--warm but not hot and sunny and, well, as my husband said "Chamber of Commerce" weather.  He and I went out to lunch (yea for vaccines, we are willing to take the risk of going out, even if it means eating inside) and then drove along the lakefront where lots of groups had gathered.  I really think this Covid thing has about run its course.  

I have several new posts on my blog this week:

Next week I am publishing a review of A Song for the Road, but this week I'm sharing a reflection on Martha and Mary of Biblical fame.  Reading this book brought those characters to mind and I wanted to share my thoughts about them with my readers.  

Here are this week's reviews:

My computer has been a royal pain tonight; Google says it is the anti-virus program scanning its own files but even reading the directions, I can't figure out how to turn it off.  GRRRRR

Have a good weke and I'll be by to visit!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Martha and Mary

 Luke Chapter 10 includes the story of Martha and Mary.  I'll quote it below and being a good Catholic who respects copyright law and is too lazy to determine how many verses I can quote of a copyrighted version without running afoul of the law,  I'll use the public domain Catholic Bible, the Douay Rheims--this edition was published in 1890 and the general language is similar to the King James Version.

From Luke 10

 38 Now it came to pass as they went, that he entered into a certain town: and a certain woman named Martha, received him into her house.  39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sitting also at the Lord's feet, heard his word.40 But Martha was busy about much serving. Who stood and said: Lord, hast thou no care that my sister hath left me alone to serve? speak to her therefore, that she help me.41 And the Lord answering, said to her: Martha, Martha, thou art careful, and art troubled about many things:42 But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her. 

I just finished a NetGalley (advance publicity copy) of a book that brought this story to mind.  The book is A Song for the Road by Kathleen Basi.  

I loved this book and will be publishing a review of it when it gets closer to publication.  

Anyway, the story of Martha and Mary has always annoyed me just a little--yes, I'm a Martha, not a Mary.  I'm the volunteer, the one who leads Girl Scout troops, teaches religion classes, reads at Mass and is generally available if someone needs something done.  If service hours had been a thing when I was in high school, I'm sure I would have had plenty.  Give me something to do and I'm in my element.  Make me sit and socialize and I get uncomfortable fast.  

What is the story supposed to tell us?  Are we all supposed to spend our days sitting at His feet?  I'm sure to some extent the answer to that question is "yes".  We need to take time in prayer to listen to what He has to tell us, and for some of us, that can be hard.  Silence and contemplation is harder than a to-do list. 

However, I noticed in reading the story, it doesn't say "and Jesus said unto Martha 'put down your dishes, bank the fire and come listen to me. Don't worry about dinner ' " Perhaps he wasn't criticizing anything about Martha except her criticism of Mary. Both Martha and Mary loved Jesus, they just expressed that love differently.  

Martha and Mary appear in John's gospel as well, in Chapter 11:

20 Martha therefore, as soon as she heard that Jesus had come, went to meet him: but Mary sat at home.  21 Martha therefore said to Jesus: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But now also I know that whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith to her: Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith to him: I know that he shall rise again, in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said to her: I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, although he be dead, shall live:  26 And every one that liveth, and believeth in me, shall not die for ever. Believest thou this? 27 She saith to him: Yea, Lord, I have believed that thou art Christ the Son of the living God, who art come into this world. 28 And when she had said these things, she went, and called her sister Mary secretly, saying: The master is come, and calleth for thee. 29 She [Mary], as soon as she heard this, riseth quickly, and cometh to him. 30 For Jesus was not yet come into the town: but he was still in that place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews therefore, who were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she rose up speedily and went out, followed her, saying: She goeth to the grave to weep there. 32 When Mary therefore was come where Jesus was, seeing him, she fell down at his feet, and saith to him: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33 Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews that were come with her, weeping, groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself, 34 And said: Where have you laid him? They say to him: Lord, come and see. 35 And Jesus wept. 36 The Jews therefore said: Behold how he loved him. 37 But some of them said: Could not he that opened the eyes of the man born blind, have caused that this man should not die?  38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, cometh to the sepulchre. Now it was a cave; and a stone was laid over it. 39 Jesus saith: Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith to him: Lord, by this time he stinketh, for he is now of four days. 40 Jesus saith to her: Did not I say to thee, that if thou believe, thou shalt see the glory of God? (emphasis mine)

Again, Martha is portrayed as the doer, Mary as the receptive one--which doesn't mean that Martha was not receptive, it just means that she thought in practicalities---"he stinketh", and Mary had to leave the house and approach Jesus.  Both loved Him but they were different people and loved differently.  

In A Song for the Road, the main character, Miriam, starts off believing that she hasn't loved enough, and that she wasn't loved enough by some and through her journey she learns that the love of Martha (my words,  not Kathleen's) is no less (or greater) than the love of Mary.  

How do you love?  Are you a Martha or a Mary?  Are you being called to be more of the other?  

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Strawberry Love: My Review


About the Book:

The arrival of fresh strawberries signals the start of summer, the time to visit pick-your-own farms and farmers’ markets to stock up on plump, ripe berries. Strawberry Love celebrates strawberry season with 45 recipes, all beautifully photographed, for enjoying this heavenly fruit, fresh or frozen. From breakfast treats (French Toast with Strawberry Syrup) to salads (Strawberry, Burrata, and Arugula Salad), main courses (Hamburger Sliders with Goat Cheese, Strawberries and Bacon), and desserts (Strawberry Creamsicles on a Stick and Strawberry Heart Hand Pies), strawberry lovers will find tantalizing new ways—along with the classics—to make the most of their summer berry bounty. The book also includes tips for picking, freezing, and making jams and syrups for enjoying the taste of summer all year long.

My Comments:

Strawberries are my absolute favorite fruit so when this beauty was offered on NetGalley I grabbed it.  It is full of fabulous-sounding recipes so that I could have strawberries for breakfast (coffee cake, danish, muffins, or waffles), lunch (gazpacho, hamburger sliders, strawberry, burrata and arugula salad) or dinner (pork chops, sautéed chicken breasts, or fish tacos) not to mention happy hour or dessert.  

The recipes are simple and generally use ingredients I have in the house and they can be put together relatively quickly.  

The book includes photos of most of the recipes as well as some general tips on dealing with strawberries.  All in all a real winner here.  Grade: B+

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Review: Real Presence


Real Presence

About the Book:

Most Catholics don’t believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. Rather, they see the bread and wine of Holy Communion as mere symbols of Christ’s body and blood. Is that disbelief just a misunderstanding or is it a blatant rejection of one of the central beliefs of the faith?

In Real Presence, University of Notre Dame theologian Timothy P. O’Malley clears up the confusion and shows you how to learn to love God and neighbor through a deeper understanding of the doctrine of real presence.

A 2019 study by the Pew Research Center found that almost seventy percent of Catholics don’t believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist.

O’Malley offers a concise introduction to Catholic teaching on real presence and transubstantiation through a biblical, theological, and spiritual account of these doctrines from the early Church to today. He also explores how real presence enables us to see the vulnerability of human life and the dignity of all flesh and blood.

O’Malley leads you to a deeper understanding and renewed faith in Catholic teaching about transubstantiation and real presence by helping you learn

  • how the doctrine of real presence is rooted in divine revelation and how the Church’s teaching regarding transubstantiation is spiritually fruitful for the believer today;
  • how to make your own the doctrine of real presence by worshipping Christ in the Eucharist and therefore making a real assent to real presence;
  • how the Eucharist, although not the exclusive presence of Christ in the Church’s liturgy and mission, is crucial in growing our capacity for recognizing those other presences; and
  • the important relationship between Eucharistic communion and adoration.

My Comments:

I've had an hour of Adoration--prayer in the chapel where the Eucharist is exposed--for over ten years now.  I have committed to my parish to be the person in the chapel during that hour each week.  Some weeks it is a great way to end the work week (I go on Friday nights); other weeks, I'll admit that skipping crosses my mind.  Sometimes I really feel His presence in the chapel; other times I don't.  I've always accepted the doctrine of the Real Presence in much the same way I've accepted a lot of other things I've been taught over the years--the people who were supposed to know this stuff taught it to me and I never came across a reason to disagree.  

I selected this book hoping for fodder for meditation or inspiration or something.  As I had read another book in the same series I was expecting a relatively easy read. Unfortunately I never really connected with this book.  It talked a lot about Eucharistic theology and quoted some mystics from the middle ages as well as relatively modern people like Dorothy Day.  Still, I'd read a few pages and when I thought about them, I'd have a hard time recalling what I read.  I tried reading big chunks and small and in the end I abandoned the book about 3/4 of the way through. 

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Hopefully it will speak to you more than it did to me.  Grade:  C.  

It's Monday: What Are You Reading


Join the other folks over at Book Date to see who is reading what this week.  

I got great news Friday afternoon.  I passed the Louisiana Notary Public Examination.  Generally speaking, about 20% of the people who take the test pass it.  I'm feeling pretty proud of myself right now.  

I got caught up on my Bible in a Year podcast.  Last week we took a break from the Old Testament to read the Gospel of John, which is awesome.  Now we are back in 1 Samuel.  I'm not much of an audio book person but based on past experience, I doubt I would have made it this far through the Bible if I was just reading it.  

I stayed off of NetGally this week, so maybe I'll catch up eventually.  My goal this year is to read all the NetGalleys I request--at least far enough to leave some sort of feedback.  Right now I have 15 that I have not reviewed yet.  Of those, I've read one, there is another I'm about halfway through and will probably abandon and 1 I'm a few pages into but which isn't grabbing me.  Then there is the one I'm reading now, The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery.  

Here are the books I've reviewed recently:

Loved this cookbook (review) and I shared a recipe from it.  

This was a sweet romance though on the unrealistic side. 

I have a Girl Scout meeting Monday night during which we are going to make a video about Citizen Science but other than that, my evenings should be free for reading or blogging, so maybe I'll catch up a little.  So many books, so little time.  

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Cookbook Review: Blueberry Love

About the Book:

Prized for their taste and nutrition, blueberries are a favorite for eating by the handful and as an ingredient in cooking and baking. Blueberry Love celebrates this sweet-tart summer fruit with 46 recipes for enjoying blueberries, fresh or frozen. From breakfast treats (Blueberry Bread Pudding and Blueberry Granola) to salads (Blueberry, Watermelon, Feta, and Mint), from main courses (Skirt Steak with Blueberry Port Sauce) to desserts (Whoopie Pies with Blueberry Cream Filling), this book is brimming with classic and creative ways to put blueberries to use. It also includes tips for picking, freezing, and making staples like jam and pie.

My Comments:

We go through a lot of blueberries at my house, and that's before I got my hands on a NetGalley of this gem.  With this cookbook we could have blueberries at all three meals, and for snacks.  

The book has beautiful photography to give you an idea of how your treat is supposed to look. 

By and large the recipes are simple--the kinds of things you find in church cookbooks and the like.  These aren't the things that take all day to cook and dirty every dish in the house.  

There is a big section on how to pick and preserve the fruit.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B+


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A Road Trip to Remember: My Review


About the Book:

 After agreeing to enter the New Life Assisted-Living Community outside of Boston, Agatha “Aggie” Robard talks her devoted, serious granddaughter, Blythe, into driving her to Florida, stopping to see old college friends along the way. She particularly needs to speak to Donovan Bailey, the man she’d thought she would marry right after graduating from college. By asking Blythe to go with her, Aggie is hoping to prove to her that life should be about having fun too. Their road trip is a great idea for both of them as long as Aggie’s son and his wife, Blythe’s difficult stepmother, don’t find out. 

While the rest of the family is away on vacation, Aggie and Blythe set off on their secret adventure. All goes well until Aggie falls while dancing on the beach with Donovan, breaking a bone in her leg. Then Blythe’s father is seriously injured in an automobile accident. Blythe and Logan Pierce, Donovan’s young assistant, do their best to step in for them at The Robard Company working together, fighting the attraction they feel for one another. 

The road trip brings about happy memories, surprises, and love as Aggie and Blythe meet others and discover new possibilities for everything they’ve ever wanted. 

My Comments:

Since I've been stuck at home a lot lately, I've taken to reading road trip books and when I saw this on NetGalley it looked like too much fun to pass up. 

I find myself more and more drawn to books with "mature" heroines and in that Judith Keim does not disappoint.  Aggie wants to see her old college friends before they die and decides that this is the time.  Her grand daughter becomes her partner in crime as they head for Florida.  

Some of us have people in our lives who were very important during one part of that life, but who have spent the rest of the years as happy memories.  I wasn't particularly close to anyone in my high school class, but I enjoy our reunions and am looking forward to our 60th birthday party this summer--who better to celebrate turning 60 with than the people with whom you were a teen?  Seeing Aggie with her college friends made me smile and remember mine.  

I wish I could tell you that this book touched me deeply or had some twist I didn't see coming, but I can't tell you that.  While a fun read, it was also very predictable--but that's not always a bad thing.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B-

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

From Blueberry Love: Sautéed Pork Tenderloin


Next week I'm going to publish my review of Blueberry Love, but this week I'm sharing one of the recipes with you (with the permission of the author, Cynthia Graubert.

Sautéed Pork Tenderloin 

Makes 3-4 servings


2 Cups fresh or frozen blueberries (I used frozen)

1/2 Cup balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

1 1/2 Tablespoon whole grain mustard ( used regular yellow French's because its what we had

Pinch of Salt

Pinch freshly ground pepper 


1 (l lb) pork tenderloin

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Fresh sage for garnish (optional) 

Make the Glaze

Place 1 cup of blueberries and the vinegar in small saucepan and bring to a quick boil over medium high heat.  Mash the blueberries with a potato masher , and add the remaining 1 cup blueberries.  Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the glaze is thickened and reduced in volume by half.  Stir in the maple syrup, mustard, salt and pepper.  Keep warm

Cook the Tenderloin on the Stovetop

Slice the tenderloin into 1 inch thick medallions (rounds). Season with salt and pepper. 

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the oil.  Add the medallions in a single layer and sear, cooking for about 3 minutes.  Turn and cook for 3 minutes longer. 

Pour 1/2 cup of the glaze into the skillet and turn the medallions over in the skillet until coated.  Remove from heat and serve warm.  Pass extra glaze as desired. 

My Comments

I may have sliced to the pork too thick, but mine wasn't done after six minutes.  I poured in half the glaze at that point and let the dish simmer.  Then I realized I hadn't added the maple syrup and mustard to the glaze, so I added it to the unused part, and then added it to the pork pan.  I didn't have any whole grain mustard so I just used the French's. 

The meal was a hit with my family (all of whom love blueberries).  

Come back next week and read about the cookbook!


Sunday, April 04, 2021

Review: Home to the Harbor


About the Book:

Despite the charms of Pleasant Shores, coming home is a last resort for William Gross. The few happy memories he has here all revolve around Bisky Castleman, and she’s still every bit as kind and strong-minded as he remembered. But William is reeling from loss, and seeing Bisky with her daughter is a painful reminder of his mistakes.

Between running her family’s fishing business and being a single mom, Bisky finds her days are full. Yet there’s always been room in her heart for William, her one childhood friend who never teased her about her height or her toughness. Through their shared volunteer work with local teens and rescue dogs, their feelings deepen into something much stronger. But is their growing bond strong enough to heal the past and forge a new beginning…together?

My Comments:

This was a sweet book which would be right at home with hundreds of self-published romances you can read for the price of a Kindle Unlimited subscription.  However, that's not what this is--while the $8 Amazon wants for the book isn't a fortune, I found the book to be trite and the characters to be caricatures.  The plot was unlikely, especially how different parts of it tied together.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  C+

it's Monday! What Are You Reading


Welcome to all the book bloggers who are visiting from Book Date.  If you are are book blogger and aren't joining us, consider this an invitation.  

I was off on Good Friday and my husband and I drove around New Orleans visiting old churches.  

The only trouble with joining a link-up like this is that you find too many book.  I went crazy on NetGalley this week and downloaded:

The cover didn't catch my eye but when someone said Emilie Richards, I was in.

Another favorite author

I've been on a road trip kick lately; add this to the collection

The cover caught my eye; swimming laps used to be my form of exercise

This came across my Goodreads feed and was highly recommended. 

Everyone needs a Christmas book in April, right?

Only one review this week.  The book wasn't what I expected, but I still enjoyed it.

Thursday, April 01, 2021

Review: Bookstore on the Beach


About the Book:

Eighteen months ago, Autumn Divac’s husband went missing. Her desperate search has yielded no answers, and she can’t imagine moving forward without him. But for the sake of their two teenage children, she has to try.

Autumn takes her kids home for the summer to the charming beachside town where she was raised. She seeks comfort working alongside her mother and aunt at their bookshop, only to learn that her daughter is facing a huge life change and her mother has been hiding a terrible secret for years. And when she runs into the boy who stole her heart in high school, old feelings start to bubble up again. Is she free to love him, or should she hold out hope for her husband’s return? She can only trust her heart…and hope it won’t lead her astray.

My Comments:

With a cover like this I didn't expect anything to emotionally taxing.  I was wrong. Honestly, I don't know how I would react if I was in Autumn's place.  So much of what she thought she knew about her family turned out to be wrong.  She made decisions based on information she had at the time and then that information turned out to be wrong.  Should she stick to old promises, or do what feels right today?  Those are the kinds of decisions none of us can make for others.  Honestly I disagreed with the choices of many of the characters but have to admit that I don't know what I would really do in a similar circumstance.  

Overall I enjoyed the book, but my disagreement with the choices did affect my enjoyment of the story.  

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B. 

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